Wound healing with neutropenia and lymphedema

I don’t sit much. I am standing right now as I type at our counter-height kitchen table. I’m at my best and most comfortable when I’m in motion, but usually I need some caution signs around me because I’m wielding some sharp, high-powered tool.

I am not a typical woman. I build things. I operate power tools every day. I use hand tools every day. I handle very, very sharp objects every day. I move rough cut wooden boards every day. I lift heavy objects more than I should every day. There are plenty of opportunities for bumps, scrapes, cuts, splinters, bruises, punctures, and pinches.

A while back I wrote about the warning sign that now comes with my left arm. With ten lymph nodes removed there are less pathways for fluid to drain which means when I injure myself there’s a greater risk of swelling (lymphedema). I’m not ever supposed to injure my left arm. Not ever. Not good for someone like me.

Last week I scraped my left index finger with a blunt star-shaped screw bit while I was driving a screw into drywall. It was a very minor injury, but  I was alarmed to see that for the next four days my finger was extremely red and unusually swollen. Amelia fretted about the threat of infection. I soaked it in salt water every day and used a prescription anti-bacterial cream. A week later the swelling was down, but it was still bright red and wasn’t even close to healed. That’s because I am still neutropenic from the toxic effects of the chemotherapy. Right now I have zero neutrophils, which are a type of blood cell you need to heal wounds and fight off infection.

I knew lymphedema and poor healing were possibilities, but this was a double whammy and another step into the new normal. Every time some new bad thing happens, I’m surprised. I have to somehow not get even a small scrape right now, not just on my left arm, but my whole body. Neutropenia might be temporary, but lymphedema is a life-long risk.

Not working is not an option for me right now – for so many reasons. But I have to figure out how to reduce my risk of injury.  My first step will be trying to find a pair of women’s tight-fitting gloves that allow for dexterity and range of motion while protecting my hands. Then maybe some lightweight, high tech body armor. I wonder if they come with packs….



3 responses

  1. Ugh. Lymphedema sucks. I’ve got it in my leg from my surgery, and just when I think it’s managed well, it rears its head just to remind me that it can. But it always gets back to a managed state. You are a do-er, builder, and problem-solver. I can think of no better qualities to help you solve these new body problems. Not fun, no, but you will get through this and life will carry on in the new normal. And there will be days, weeks, and possibly even months when you don’t give this time much more than a passing thought. You’ve got this. A lot of love to you and Amelia.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I got a great pair of goat leather gloves at Agway. Use for gardening. Stood up to a cut with a hori. Tight fit, flexible, leather on fingers/palm. I can see if still have…..

    Liked by 1 person

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